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August 16, 2006

As life progresses we strive to acquire items of all shapes and sizes.  Some are useful and some…not so much.  When we’ve used these items to their fullest potential, they get sent to the last stop before the garbage -- the garage.  

Some things can appropriately be stored in the garage: hand tools, sporting equipment and outdoor toys to name a few.  What am I forgetting?  Oh right—the car! The garage can be an amazing resource for the home but a messy garage will do nothing but frustrate, and it can even be dangerous.  Give some of these garage organization tips a try and you and your car just might like the results.

Set a time for you and your family to tackle the mess of the garage together.  Everyone in the home has some level of attachment to the items in there, so make it a group activity.  If you are having a hard time getting the gang motivated, set a date in the local paper for a garage sale; nothing lights the fire of motivation more than a publicized deadline.  Start by sorting through everything in the garage.  Decide what you want to keep and place those items in one area of the yard.  Create a separate area for things that still work but you don’t need anymore (those can be sold), and have a big trash bin for things that can’t be sold or donated.  

Now that things are sorted, go through the “for sale” pile.  Have the kids place stickers on personal items they’re selling and allow them to keep the money they earn.  Whatever doesn’t sell during the garage sale can be donated to charity.  Be sure to think outside the box with regard to donations.  If you have extra paint or lumber that is in good shape, it can be donated it to a local community theater. Donations help our neighbors and offer tax deductions when given to non-profit agencies…it also just feels good to give.

3.Sort everything in the “keep” pile by its use.  Create small piles of garden tools, sporting equipment, toys, holiday decorations, etc.  You can even go so far as to sort those categories in to smaller piles (e.g. organize sporting equipment by specific sport).  This will help you to become aware of the importance of each group of items and will ultimately help determine where they should go in the garage.

At this stage of the game (and not before), go out and buy the organizational tools that will best suit your needs. People often make the mistake of doing this first, which tends to result in money being wasted on unnecessary items. When purchasing hardware, remember to get lots of hooks so you can take advantage of the walls of your garage.  Use them to hang garden tools, bikes, sports equipment, etc.  With so many sizes and styles of hooks available, feel free to hang everything!  Also don’t forget helpful things like pegboards, jars, cabinetry, etc.

5.On another wall, install shelving.  This can be anything from actual bookcases to repurposed kitchen cabinets from a salvage yard or a recent remodel.  Just be sure to have an area with doors so that certain items can be kept out of view and out of touch. Items stored in the garage can be heavy so anchor the storage unit well to avoid accidents.  Remember to keep the heavier items on lower shelves and anything dangerous to children on a high-shelf or behind locked doors.

You’ve probably been storing some large, valuable items in the garage.  Lawnmowers, power tools, snow blowers, and yard equipment are not only large investments that should be kept safe, but they can also be dangerous.  If your garage is not locked properly you can easily have these big-ticket items stolen.  In addition to the risk of theft, these items also need to be kept away from children’s curious fingers.  Solve all of these concerns by placing these items in a separate structure like a Hillcrest Shed from Lifetime Products.  This shed is not only extremely secure, but it will provide protection from the elements such as wind, rain and the sun.  The best part is that moving these large items to a more appropriate place frees up lots of room for your car!

Before reloading the garage, thoroughly sweep and clean the floor.  You can get rid of old oil stains with some cleaner and elbow grease.  Once the floor is in good shape, either finish the concrete with an epoxy coating to make it durable, easy to clean, and stain resistant or apply appropriate flooring like rubber matting or garage floor tiles.

Now it’s time to put everything you’re keeping back in the garage.  Organize everything in order of use and start to fill up your new shelving, hooks, and cabinetry.  Place toys and sporting items in one area that is away from dangerous items and at a level where the smallest members of the family can grab them easily.  Utilize your hooks and brackets to keep garden tools in one area and use small drawers or jars for nails, screws, and other small building materials.  Keep your hand tools easily accessible on a pegboard above a work surface. Store your unused pots and planters upside down and on top of each other to make the best use of your space.  Seasonal items not currently being used should be in an out-of-reach area and rotated into a more accessible area as the appropriate season comes around.

Remember to store all flammable items like spray paints, wood stains, and cleansers in a flameproof cabinet.  I know it seems like overkill, but in case of emergency this will prove invaluable.  When storing spare paint, pour a bit of each color into a small clear container and label it with the location of the larger container along with the color’s mix information.  If you don’t want to hold onto the paint, call your local recycling department to find out how to properly dispose of it.  You can easily dry out the left over paint in a can by filling it with kitty litter.  It will absorb all the extra paint and make for a safe disposal.

Finally, keep up the good work.  Schedule a weekend at least once a year to keep things in tiptop shape.  Maintenance is always easier than the first major cleanup, so the hardest part is over!

Leslie Segrete is a true renaissance woman. It is important for her to show everyone that the home arts are for all people. She wants people to know that designing, building, sewing, crafting and creating are not as scary as they might think. All it takes is the courage to try and not to be afraid to make mistakes. This holds true for all of the arts Segrete expresses herself in. She loves to sew, build, and create art in every medium including food.  Currently living in New York with her husband, Leslie enjoys entertaining her family and friends and all the joys of home. Segrete can currently be seen on TLC’s While You Were Out and Trading Spaces as a carpenter and designer.  She also appears on Weekend Today as a home improvement expert, and can be heard nationwide on The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Home.

For more information, please contact Lifetime Public Relations at

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About Lifetime Products: Established in 1986, Lifetime Products, Inc. is a privately held company headquartered in Clearfield, Utah. Lifetime Products is the world's largest manufacturer of blow-molded polyethylene folding tables and chairs, and residential basketball hoops. With products sold in 58 countries, Lifetime has been manufacturing in Utah for more than 25 years and employs 1,250 people in its Clearfield facility, and more than 2,075 people worldwide. For more information about Lifetime Products, Inc. and its products, visit